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Woman Credits Fortune Cookies for $400K Winning Lotto Ticket Purchased at Los Gatos Liquor Store

Winning ticket  purchased at Rinconada Liquors, in Los Gatos. Credit: California State Lottery.
Winning ticket purchased at Rinconada Liquors, in Los Gatos. Credit: California State Lottery.

From the California State Lottery: 

Merces Goncalves’ husband always said “If you would save the money you spend on lottery tickets you could afford a trip to Portugal each year.” 

Goncalves’ dedication to picking the same five sets of lucky numbers for each Mega Millions drawing paid off as she matched five of six winning numbers in the March 4th drawing, winning $421,811 -- from a ticket purchased at Rinconada Liquors, in Los Gatos (Santa Clara County).  

And now she can afford that trip to her home country of Portugal!

What makes this story even more interesting is how Goncalves picked those sets of five numbers. She used five different sets of lucky numbers she got from inside fortune cookies. 

And one of those fortunate sets of numbers matched 10, 29, 31, 35, and 45, just missing the Mega number by one digit. 

Goncalves’ ticket had the Mega number 9. The winning Mega number was 10. Had she got the Mega number, she would have won $240 million in the March 4th drawing. 

“I don’t care that I didn’t hit the big one” Goncalves said.

That lucky ticket was purchased at Rinconada Liquors, which is located at 1480 Pollard Rd. in Los Gatos (Santa Clara County).

The best part about the story is what Goncalves plans to do with the money. Goncalves and her husband Alvaro plan on going on the Hawaiian honeymoon they couldn’t afford when they got married 52 years ago.

Goncalves, who is a retired homemaker, says she also plans on investing some of the money.

Mega Millions is played in California (and 42 other states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands). 

Draw times are Tuesdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m. PST. Tickets are $1 and can be purchased from any of the more than 21,000 California Lottery retailers. Please visit the California Lottery’s Mega Millions site for more information on how to play. 


The mission of the California Lottery is to provide supplemental funding to California schools while simultaneously supporting local communities. More than 95 cents of every dollar spent by our players goes back to local communities in the form of contributions to public schools and colleges, prizes and retail compensation. The California Lottery urges its customers to play responsibly and within their budgets. If you feel you have a gambling problem, or know someone who does, you can get help at 1-800-GAMBLER.

Pete Turner March 23, 2014 at 06:34 AM
Very many big lottery winners report that they used a quick pick (lucky dip). Maybe there's nothing really much in it, but quick picks certainly do seem to be more lucky. To try to take advantage of this, I have my own little just-for-fun page which generates personal quick pick numbers. As I say, it is only for fun, but you never know your luck! Look out for VillaLibra Lucky Numbers if you want to see if you can locate it.

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